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Christopher Hare does not vary from the traditional explanation:
The whole story of Péronne could not fail to excite the satirical wit of the keen Parisians. The King, after his three weeks anxiety, was unwise enough to show it. He ordered that all who spoke ill of the Duke of Burgundy should be severely punished, while the names were to be taken of all owners of magpies, jackdaws, and other talking birds who had been maliciously taught to cry “ Péronne."
Michelet tries to reconcile the text of the Chroniclers with what to him is the obvious explanation:
The farce of Péronne .... the ablest of the able duped. . . . . Every one laughed, young and old, the small children, but what am I saying, the very talking birds, jays, magpies, and starlings spoke of nothing else, they knew but one word, “ Pérette."
So much for the explanations of the political historians, the best that can be offered, without recourse to mental pathology, and all of them, without exception, absolutely wrong. But if they all have the wrong explanation, what is the right one? Brachet offers but one: kleptomania. This, he properly says, explains quite naturally the two seizures of 1468, which roused the people of Paris. But the relation of that act of kleptomania to the date of its outbreak is still to be accounted for, and why the bizarre act took place precisely upon the return from the interview at Péronne in which Louis was within a hair's breadth of being first deposed, and afterwards put to death by Charles the Bold.
Of the three hypotheses—(1) a chance coincidence, (2) exaggerated assertion of the King's authority, and (3) the psychopathic interpretation—the last only is tenable. For in the date of the King's act is to be recognized the law of impulse in degenerates. The depleted mental and nervous condition in which the King found himself upon his return after the detention at Péronne and after the terrible emotional strain which he had undergone led to inevitable nervous exhaustion, 18 months after a severe attack of typho-malaria. It is natural to think that he should find himself unable at this particular time to withstand an irresistible impulse
* Hare, Life of Louis XI, p. 159.
* La farce de Péronne .... l'habile des habiles, dupé .... Tous en riaient, jeunes et vieux, les petits enfants, que dis-je ? les oiseaux causeurs, geais, pies et sansonnets, ne causaient d'autre chose ; ils ne savaient qu'un mot, “ Pérette.” Michelet, Hist. de France, éd. Flammarion, VI, 242-243; Brachet, cix.
to zoophilistic kleptomania, which must have tempted him more than once, but which his care for his reputation had held in check. He yielded to that impulse, knowing very well that it was the worst possible moment to do it, and that he had best not yield to it, or at least wait until he had less need for public opinion."
It is Brachet's conclusion, and it seems unassailable, that the psychological interpretation of the King's act in seizing the birds and beasts was an attack of kleptomania in the case of a degenerate zoophile, breaking out consecutively upon a condition of depleted nervous tone, produced in this case by his captivity.
This conclusion is the more acceptable in that it conforms to the three conditions of hypothesis: (a) It is contradicted by none of the observed facts; (b) it explains them all; (c) it discloses the formula of zoophile for the King.
In view of what one king's reign has to contribute to the study of historical pathology, and upon the reasonable assumption that such conditions are not confined to one reign, the question naturally arises: Is it possible to write a faithful biography which fails to consider what bearing the biological factor may have upon the life history of any individual? Assuredly the study of historical pathology has a very definite place in solving the problems of history.
- Féré, Pathologie des Emotions, p. 277. “The emotions have pathological effects, the more marked when they are produced at the end of a sickness, in convalescence; in a word, where they act upon an organism already enfeebled.”
Notes and Comment.
THE SEVENTY-Fourth ANNUAL MEETING OF THE AMERICAN MEDICO-PsychOLOGICAL AssociaTION.—The meeting of the Association in Chicago the first week in June was in attendance, in the character of the papers read, and in general interest, as shown in the discussions, a marked success.
The address of the President, Dr. James V. Anglin, of St. John, New Brunswick, was a stirring appeal to patriotism, and strong and well-considered indictment of German “ Kultur.” It was an address which roused the feelings of his audience to a high pitch of enthusiasm. Dr. Anglin is one of those who sees from all the expenditure of blood and tears, in all the tremendous sacrifices which have been made, and must yet be made to make the world safe from autocracy and military rule-a place fit to live in-an outcome which shall show that those who have died in the great struggle which convulses the world and those who have sent their sons, as he has done, to battle for justice have not done these things in vain, but, to quote Lincoln's wonderful address at Gettysburg, that through these sacrifices the nations of the earth "under God shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Behind Dr. Anglin while he spoke was a service flag, which had earlier in the session been presented to the Association in behalf of the citizens of Chicago.
This flag contains nearly one hundred stars in honor of the members of the Association who have joined the medical service in the United States military or naval forces, and who are on duty either at home or abroad. This does not represent by any means all the members of the Association who are now serving their country and mankind in the ranks of the military and naval forces, but all that the Secretary had certain knowledge of at the time of the meeting.
The annual address was given by Professor Paul Shorey of the University of Chicago. Nothing which we can say will ade
quately characterize an address which was as full of wit as it was replete with wisdom. We hope to have the pleasure of publishing the address in the next issue of the JOURNAL.
To make reference to the various papers which were read which would do justice to each is a task beyond us. As would be naturally expected, papers and addresses referring to medical service in the war formed part of the program, among these the addresses of Major E. Stanley Abbott, M. R. C., and Captain (now Major) Frankwood E. Williams, M. R. C., of the army, and Asst. Surgeon Albert Warren Stearns, U. S. Navy, R. F., were notable.
Food and its conservation was the topic of an eloquent address at the evening session of Thursday, June 6, by Professor Ray Lyman Wilbur, M. D., President of Leland Stanford University, now a member of the United States Food Administration. We do not believe that any of his audience came away from the meeting without a clear conception of the absolute necessity for the most rigid conservation of food in order to keep the men on the fighting line properly nourished and in good condition, and to help nourish the civilian population of the countries whose allies we are. All came away with a better and broader comprehension of the meaning and force of the slogan, “ Food will win the war."
The paper by Dr. J. C. Mitchell, of Brockville, Ontario, on "Food and Its Service in the Provincial Hospital," was a concise statement of the experiences in Canada under the rules and restrictions of a Food Controller, and will, when published, be of much value in helping solve some of the problems which confront hospital administrators on this side of the line.
CHANGES IN THE EDITORIAL STAFF.–At the meeting of the Council of the American Medico-Psychological Association in Chicago on June 3, the resignations of Drs. Henry M. Hurd and G. Alder Blumer from the editorial staff of the AMERICAN JOURNAL OF INSANITY were presented, and with great regret accepted.
Dr. Hurd was managing editor of the JOURNAL from 1897 to 1904, when at the meeting of the Association in St. Louis he resigned its active direction, consenting, however, to remain in an advisory position-a member of the editorial staff. Our readers will recall the action taken by the Association to show its appreciation of Dr. Hurd's interest in the Association and his active efforts in the editorial conduct of the JOURNAL, an account of which appears in its pages in the number for January, 1906. Dr. Blumer joined the editorial board of the JOURNAL in 1880, when he became a member of the medical staff of the State Hospital at Utica, N. Y., where the JOURNAL was then edited and published.
From the death of Dr. John P. Gray, in 1886, until the JOURNAL became the property of the American Medico-Psychological Association in 1894, he was editor-in-chief.
By direction of the Council the name of Dr. Hurd and of Dr. Blumer will each be carried on the title page of the JOURNAL as editor emerit'is, and the present editors hope to frequently benefit by their advice and assistance.
This is the firot break in the editorial staff in 21 years. At the meeting of the A. sociation in Baltimore in 1897, Drs. Henry M. Hurd, G. Alder Biimer, Edward N. Brush and J. Montgomery Mosher were appoir. ed by the Council as editors of the JOURNAL; Dr. Charles K. Clarke, of Toronto, Canada, being added to the staff in October, 1904.
The new members of the editorial staff are: Dr. Charles Macfie Campbell, of the Henry Phipps Psychiatric Clinic of The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, and Dr. Albert M. Barrett, Director of the Psychiatric Clinic of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Mich.
The managing editor parts with his old associates with many feelings of regret. It has been a pleasure and an inspiration to work with them. The Association, the readers of the JOURNAL, and the medical profession owe them a debt which can never be paid. We welcome the new members of our editorial family and feel confident that they will render efficient aid in maintaining the standard already established by the Journal and in still further elevating that standard.
DEATH OF DR. Macy.—Dr. William Austin Macy, Medical Superintendent of the Kings Park State Hospital, Kings Park, L. I., N. Y., died at the Kings Park State Hospital on May 21 last from cerebral hemorrhage.
An extended notice of Dr. Macy's life and work will appear in the next issue of the JOURNAL.